Submitted: 03-31-2003 by Trilobite02
Finally the ice has thawed on the local lakes, and was able to go for a three hour fitness paddle in some blustery conditions. The wind was whipping up small whitecaps, coming in sudden gusts. Overall, I am quite impressed with this boat's poise; it is almost unaffected by these conditions, that would have had my Eclipse spinning in circles. I can't say its a fast boat-dwelling on this alone has me wistfully wishing I had bought the NF Legend. However, the Explorer tracks beautifully, yet carves easily and gracefully on edge. Once more, it seems far easier to do this in wind and chop than many other boats I've tried-it inspires confidence. As noted in a message board post, the fit and finish is cobby, but tolerable-it is a handmade boat and looks that way upon close inspection. The bulkheads seem to have been eyed for fit with irregular gaps, the interior fiberglass application is inconsistent, with some areas that show exposed fibers, the fill work on the slider skeg control looks trowelled, etc. The gelcoat finish itself isn't perfect, but isn't bad either; it's a pretty boat. I know I need to do something about the backband/seat combination. The band rotates down despite cranking down on the bungees, and the seat itself would benefit from a higher rear flange. That edge is sharp and cruel-perhaps gluing some coaming edge stripping on would help. Maybe they designed it to promote weight loss; if you can pinch anything at all around your midsection, then you will certainly get pinched here-it's a good motivator to lose that winter roll. Beyond that, the only other criticism is the slider skeg assembly protrudes slightly into the space occupied by your left kneecap. It's not painful, just noticeable; although over the course of a day it could elevate to annoyance status. That's it; I'm done criticizing. The skeg drops smoothly and is huge. Honestly, I can't see using it too often except for maybe trimming it down a bit to true my course. The boat weathercocks very slightly and predictably, easily corrected by small strokes. As one reviewer also noted, if the water's choppy and the wind's whipping, this not so fast boat is unruffled and makes up time. You can really see its lineage when the weather conditions worsen. The hatches, etc. remain dry so far. It's obvious the bulhead area is airtight from the rubber covers' 'Tupperware-like' expansion and contraction in changing air and water temps-very good. I give it an '8' on the holistic score of handling/performance vs. fit/finish/ergonomics. (Plus it has a good beat, and you can dance to it.) In all, one fine boat.